Christmas is a time for goodwill to all, but Collars and Cuffs co-owner Thomas Williams receives an unexpected gift that chills him to the bone. A Dom from another Manchester club asks Thomas for his help rescuing an abused submissive, Peter Nicholson. Thomas takes in the young man as a favor to a friend, offering space and time to heal, but he makes it clear he’s never had a sub and doesn't want one.
Peter finds Thomas’s home calm and peaceful, but his past has left him unwilling to trust another Dom. When Thomas doesn't behave as Peter expects, Peter’s nightmares begin to fade, and he decides he’d like to learn more about D/s life. A well-known trainer of submissives, Thomas begins to teach Peter, but as the new submissive opens up to him, Thomas finds he cares more for Peter than he should. Just as he decides it’s time to find a permanent Dom for Peter, they discover Peter’s tormentor is still very much a threat. With their lives in danger, Thomas can’t deny his feelings for Peter any longer. The question now becomes, can Peter make it out of the lions’ den alive, so that Thomas can tell his boy that he loves him?
This book pushed all my buttons and made me cry a lot. Partly, I cried in helpless rage when Peter's story comes out bit by bit, and partly in sheer joy from watching this beautifully broken young man flourish under Thomas' capable hands.
So, you had best have tissues at the ready.
I have a thing for the salt and pepper older men. You know, the ones with experience, the ones who are comfortable in their own skin, the ones who make you feel safe as soon as you look at them. Thomas is such a man. Unfortunately, he plays for the other team, but in his book he finds just what he didn't even know he needed.
Peter on the other hand is very damaged - nearly broken by years of abuse at the hands of a sadistic man who shouldn't ever be allowed to call himself a Dom. Still, despite his fears and the brainwashing, Peter has not completely given up hope. It's buried deep, sure, but there's still that little spark inside that ultimately lets him shine brightly by the end.
The writing is engaging and descriptive, exploring the aftermath of abuse, ignorance and explaining the BDSM lifestyle as it flows along, creating gorgeous imagery that brought out all my feelz and left me choked up more than a few times.
I admired Peter's strength in reclaiming his life, I cheered for him whenever he took a new step forward, and I was overjoyed for both Peter and Thomas at the end.
What could have been done better was the resolution to the Curtis situation. It seemed over too quickly and too cleanly, which I suppose, for escape from reality's sake, wasn't too bad. I was on the edge of my seat as it was, so it's not like I minded terribly when the bad guys went to jail rather quickly.
I must also question the existence of the leaking butthole and refer to my friend who tells me there's no such thing. Though, I suppose it could be argued that after years of sexual abuse in Peter's case, perhaps the sphincter does not shut as tightly as it should (contradicted when Thomas exclaims how very tight Peter is), even though that would still require gravity (and thus standing up) for the few ounces of cum to leak at all.
Either way, I've come to expect such inaccuracies in a lot of M/M romances, and they don't distract me from my enjoyment of this book. There were scenes that were so utterly gorgeous and emotional, they took my breath away. I felt cherished just by reading about how delicately and conscientiously Thomas takes care of
I received a free ARC from Dreamspinner Press. A positive review was not promised in return.
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